When the tube of toothpaste runs out or your toothbrush’s bristles start to fray, it’s time to switch to new ones. But how do you decide which products are right for you?

Many people opt for the cheapest product available, but there can be several factors other than cost that you should keep in mind. Here are a few pointers for the next time you need to stock up.

What to look for in a toothpaste

Generally speaking, most toothpastes are made up of similar types of basic ingredients. The key ones are fluoride and abrasive ingredients. Other additives may include sweeteners, flavours, stabilisers and thickeners.

Fluoride is an important part of toothpaste. It helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth, which ultimately helps protect against decay. Most toothpastes contain fluoride, but it's a good idea to double check if you're looking to try a different brand.

Abrasives help polish your teeth and remove stubborn particles of food. The amount you'll find in a toothpaste is generally enough to remove pieces of food without eroding your teeth. Examples of abrasives include hydrated silica or calcium carbonate, which are usually listed amongst the ingredients.

As well as checking for what your toothpaste does have, you may also want to look for what it doesn’t – for instance, sugar! It's rare to find sugar as an ingredient, and most toothpastes will opt for an alternative sweetener.

Talk to your dentist if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, as there are special toothpastes which can sometimes help. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth typically work by blocking the tubules (microscopic channels in the dentin layer of your teeth).

Another popular product on the market is whitening toothpaste. If you're thinking about using one of these toothpastes, we recommend speaking with a dental professional to find out which one would be most effective for you.

How to choose the right toothbrush for you

There are also countless options of toothbrushes on the market.

Typically, it doesn’t make a huge difference whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush so long as you use them correctly. However, people may prefer one over the other. For instance, an electric toothbrush may have a timer which can help you brush for the recommended two minutes. Children may also find electric toothbrushes more fun and clean their teeth more thoroughly as a result.

Toothbrushes are available in a variety of bristle hardness, usually marked “soft,” “medium” or “hard.” Most people will only need a soft or medium brush for their teeth. A hard brush can damage your teeth and gums, especially if you use it to scrub your teeth roughly.

Regardless of the type of brush you choose, take care to use proper brushing technique. This means holding your brush at a 45-degree angle, positioned where your tooth and gum tissue meet. This can help clean under your gums. Also remember to brush your teeth’s surface gently, in a circular pattern – avoid roughly scrubbing in a back-and-forth motion. This can damage your gums!

If you're unsure about toothbrush type or brushing technique, speak with your dental practitioner, who can give you detailed recommendations based on your own oral health.

The importance of dental floss

Dental floss is another important part of dental hygiene. There are a number of options such as shred-resistant, unwaxed and woven floss. Speak with your dental team to figure out which option is the best for you and your gums. The most important bit is to floss regularly and with the proper technique below the gumline.

How else can I care for my oral health?

Along with regular dental check-ups and a professional clean from your hygienist, we have lots of tips for staying healthy!